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NYC Cyclist Deaths: After Rash Of Deaths, Mayor De Blasio Unveils Bike Safety Plan, Goes Easy On Bikers Behaving Badly

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A dramatic rise in bike fatalities has forced Mayor Bill de Blasio to unveil a multimillion dollar cyclist safety plan, more protected bike lanes, a police crackdown on drivers and a whole lot more.

But what about making riders obey the law?

The flashing lights of an ambulance, police tape a crushed windshield were all part of the scene from where a cyclist was hit by a car in Woodhaven, Queens, just one of three bike riders hit in a 24-hour period on the streets of New York City.

Mayor Bill De Blasio Announces 'Green Wave' Bicycle Plan

Seventeen cyclists have been killed so far this year, forcing de Blasio to act.

  • Jan. 1 – Hugo Alexander Sinto Garcia, 26, was killed on Third Avenue near East 28th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
  • Jan. 4 – Hector Ayala, 41, was killed on Linden Boulevard near Crescent Street in East New York, Brooklyn.
  • Jan. 26 – Susan Moses, 63, was killed at Kings Highway and Van Sicklen Street in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
  • Feb. 4 – Joseph Chiam, 72, was killed by a tractor-trailer truck at 8th Avenue and 45th Street in Midtown, Manhattan. The driver took off.
  • Feb. 28 – Aurilla Lawrence, 25, was killed at Broadway and Rodney Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  • March 14 Robert Spencer, 53, was killed at Borden Avenue and Second Street in Long Island City, Queens.
  • April 17 Pedro Tepozteco, 26, was killed on 47th Street near 17th Avenue in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
  • April 27 – Victor Ang, 74, was killed on 11th Avenue near West 30th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan.
  • May 11 – Kenichi Nakagawa, 22, was killed at Dean Street and Brooklyn Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
  • May 12 – Robert Sommer, 29, was killed by a car on Avenue U between Burnett and East 33rd streets in Marine Park, Brooklyn.
  • May 15 Yisroel Schwartz, 16, was killed at 17th Avenue and 53rd Street in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
  • June 9 – Mohammed Abdullah, 29, was killed by a car at Avenue D and 105th Street in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The driver was charged with driving while intoxicated with her 4-year-old daughter in the backseat.
  • June 24 – Robyn Hightman, 20, was killed by a tractor-trailer truck at West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue. The driver was cited for equipment violations.
  • June 27 – Ernest Askew, 57, was killed by a car at Chester Street and Sutter Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
  • July 1 – Devra Freelander, 28, was killed by a cement truck at Boerum Street and Bushwick Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  • July 23 – Alex Cordero, 17, was killed by tow truck at Castleton Avenue and Clove Road in the West Brighton section of Staten Island.
  • July 23 – A 58-year-old man was killed by a box truck at McGuiness Boulevard and Norman Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

"This year has been so shocking. Seventeen. Seventeen cyclists have died already. We lost ten cyclists all of last year," de Blasio said. "It can not go on like this."

The mayor, also known as "Vision Zero de Blasio," was shaken by the death toll, reported CBS2's Marcia Kramer. He announced a $58 million plan to:

  • Create more protected bike lanes
  • Expand bike lanes in 10 priority districts in Brooklyn and Queens that have seen a large number of accidents
  • Expand Project "Green Wave" so that all traffic can pass from one green light to another

There will also be a police crackdown.

"The NYPD enforcement will continue to grow. We will now target the most dangerous locations," de Blasio said.

So far, 8,648 tickets have been give out to cars parked in bike lanes during the first three weeks of the NYPD's "Bicycle Safe Passage" initiative. That's a 95 percent increase over last year. Some 2,913 tickets have been given to motorists for failing to yield to pedestrians or cyclists, a 17 percent increase.

But what about bike riders behaving badly?

Three weeks ago when CBS2 went out with an NYPD enforcement unit, we caught a lot of careless riders with police standing right there. CBS2 saw bike riders blowing through red lights, going the wrong way, and one rider so distracted by his cell phone he went through a red light and nearly got hit by a car door.

"Mr. Mayor, you've asked the NYPD to crack down on drivers. But what about these bicycle riders behaving badly? Don't you think they should be ticketed, that they should be accountable?" Kramer asked.

"I think it was a mistake for the NYPD to be giving tickets to cyclists right after a tragedy, but we've also said consistently of course we're going to do enforcement on everyone," de Blasio said.

"Don't you think that if you asked bicycle riders to take some responsibility you would have fewer accidents?" Kramer asked.

"Yes, there will be enforcement in a bicyclist violates the law," de Blasio said. "But it's understanding that something motorized is much more dangerous than something not motorized."

One intriguing part of the plan in the pilot program is to adjust the timing of green lights so that all traffic - cars, trucks and bikes - can pass through one light after another.

The speed limit in those zones will be set at 15 miles per hour, and the first corridors are set to come online next year.


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